How to own your morning and win your day (8 Morning Habits)


What to do

Set yourself up to win the day with 8 morning habits.

Why it works

Robin Sharma (pictured above) is a renowned expert and bestselling author in the domain of personal development and productivity. One of his most popular books is “The 5 AM Club”. At its core, the book emphasizes the importance of owning the morning to win your day. Why? Because how you begin your day strongly impacts your overall well-being and the ability to achieve your goals. 

Waking up early gives you a head start before the distractions of the day begin. Sharma recommends getting up at 5 am and spending that early hour on three specific activities. The first is exercise (e.g. walking or running) to boost morning energy levels and mood. The second is reflection (e.g. goal-setting or meditation) to foster mental clarity. And the third is learning (e.g. reading) to promote continuous development.

Now, I don’t subscribe to the idea that everyone should get up at 5 am to engage in activities around exercise, reflection or learning. This only works for a minority of people – that is, the roughly 15% of us who are super-early, “extreme lark” chronotypes (more on this below). Yet, regardless of when you wake up, how you go about your morning can make or break your day. Here are 8 morning habits that will set you up for the former instead of the latter.

How to do it

  1. Do Intermittent Digital Fasting. Most people check their phone first thing – and thus get a reactive start to the day. Don’t be most people. Be proactive and practice Intermittent Digital Fasting (IDF) (h/t to Jade Bonacolta). IDF is simple: stay away from your phone 1 hour after waking up. Read on for the best habits to fill that hour with. And if you want to delve deeper into IDF, check out my recent how-to article.
  2. Set and timebox three daily goals. Productivity isn’t about squeezing in more things, but doing the right things. Without goals, you’ll be lost. So, set three daily goals each morning. Then, timebox your day to pursue them (h/t to Nir Eyal). In this wildly popular article, I explain how exactly to pull this off.
  3. Put in some exercise (as in: walk). Exercise significantly boosts energy and mood – and reduces stress for up to 24 (!) hours. No time for a run or hitting the gym in the morning? Don’t despair. A 10-minute brisk walk goes a long way. Go outside to get some sunlight (see #4). To delve deeper into how exercise improves your energy, mood and productivity, read this.
  4. Get light right (10-10-10 rule). This is vital for optimizing your cortisol and melatonin levels. You’ll have more energy during the day and fall deeply asleep easier at night. To do so, use our 10-10-10 rule: Get 10 mins of sunlight into your eyes before 10 am & avoid bright, blue light after 10 pm. Learn more about the 90-90-90 rule here.
  5. Expose yourself to the cold. A cold shower increases dopamine, the “motivation molecule”, by 250%. That’s the same rise one gets from cocaine. That’s wild, isn’t it? To avoid cold shock, put safety first: Start your shower nice and warm; then turn it to cold for 30-60 seconds at the end. Learn more about how to safely take cold showers here.
  6. Drink plenty of water. Insufficient hydration causes fatigue and even anxiety. Nobody needs that. Women should go for 2 liters and men for 3 liters a day, says the Mayo Clinic. For better sleep at night, drink most of your water in the first 10 hours of the day. To learn more about how to consume water (and caffeine) throughout the day, read this.
  7. Do a meditation. This is one of the best ways to train or restore your focus. To train your focus, practice mindfulness meditation – by repeatedly bringing your attention back to your breath. To restore your focus, do deep rest (e.g. Yoga Nidra aka NSDR). It also works like a charm to deal with a bad night’s sleep. Here’s a deep dive into three popular variants of deep rest, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s favorite.
  8. Work deeply. 60-90 mins of daily “deep work” doubles your overall productivity, McKinsey found. Use our 30-3-11 rule to time it when your energy and motivation are highest: ~30 minutes after waking, ~3 hours after waking, or ~11 hours after waking. For 75% of us, mornings are best. So eat that frog. And if you want to learn more about timing and implementing deep work regardless of whether you’re not a morning person or not, read this.

You just learned 8 habits to own your morning and win your day. 

Give them a try and let me know how it went.